NYC Comments On Lawsuit Against Bloomberg Over Pregnancy Discrimination

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Pregnancy Discrimination

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday was "dismissive" of a lawsuit filed last week against Bloomberg L.P.-- the financial and media company he founded -- that said the companydiscriminated against three female employees after they became pregnantand took maternity leave, the New York Times reports (Rivera, New York Times, 10/5). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month filed the lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in New York City.

Thelawsuit identifies the plaintiffs as Jill Patricot, Janet Loures andTanys Lancaster, all of whom were high-level employees in the company'soffices in New York City and Princeton, N.J., Milo Silberstein, aprivate lawyer hired by the women, said. Loures and Patricot still arewith the firm, and Lancaster left in 2005. Although the suit is filedin the name of the three women, EEOC said the action is on behalf of a"class of female employees affected by such unlawful practices" at thecompany.

According to the lawsuit, Bloomberg L.P. managementdemoted women and reduced their salaries after learning the women werepregnant. The women also were replaced by more junior male employees,excluded from management meetings or subjected to comments including,"You are not committed," and, "You don't want to be here," the lawsuitsaid. In some cases, managers questioned the women's ability to performbecause of their family responsibilities, the suit said.

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Thecompany's human resources department dismissed complaints filed aboutthe discrimination, according to the lawsuit. The women filed acomplaint with EEOC last year, and the commission's New York DistrictDirector Spencer Lewis in June determined that the allegationswarranted a suit against the company (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 10/1). According to the Times, the company has "adamantly denied" the allegations in the lawsuit.

MichaelBloomberg on Thursday at a press conference suggested that his companyattracted lawsuits because of the high profile of his name. He added,"What's happening is that because I'm so visible, that obviously I'm atarget."

Michael Bloomberg's Involvement With Company

After "a week of distancing himself from the company," MichaelBloomberg on Thursday said that he has talked regularly to seniorexecutives at the firm and was kept up to date about what was happeningthere, the Times reports (New York Times, 10/5).

AlthoughMichael Bloomberg owns 68% of the company's shares, he previously saidhe has not been involved in daily operations at the company since 2001,and the allegations in the lawsuit are said to have occurred after hebecame mayor in 2002 (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 10/1). According to the Times,the "shift came" after a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed a motion thatsaid the mayor had discussed the allegations and other matters withcompany officials.

"I am the majority owner, and I'mabsolutely entitled to talk to the senior people and am entitled toknow what's going on" with the company, Michael Bloomberg said, adding,"And I will continue to do that. I've been doing that since I becamemayor." He suggested that major decisions in the company such as"product changes and things of that nature" would not be made withouthis input. "I just don't get involved in the day-to-day stuff likepersonnel," he said. He is not named as a defendant in the EEOC lawsuit(New York Times, 10/5).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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